meet our team
Matt MehalikExecutive Director
Matt is Executive Director of the Breathe Collaborative and its communication platform, the Breathe Project, beginning in September 2016. From 2007 – 2016, he served as Program Director of Sustainable Pittsburgh where he created Pittsburgh’s sustainable business network, Champions for Sustainability, and its performance programs and networks. Matt has been teaching sustainability and environmental policy at Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University, since 2008. He has published multiple peer-reviewed articles in sustainability, design and education and has co-authored “Ethical and Environmental Challenges to Engineering” with Michael E. Gorman and Patricia Werhane. Matt’s Ph.D. is in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia. For the past 20 years, Matt has dedicated himself to creating and managing networks that transform systems for a sustainable, just, fair and hopeful future. He serves on the boards of Phipps Conservatory, and Pine Richland School District.
Debra Diamond SmitDirector of Communications
Deb serves as Director of Communications of the Breathe Project where she is managing media, marketing and messaging for more than 36 environmental organizations in Southwestern Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia who are members of the Breathe Collaborative. She is an award-winning editor and journalist with more than 25 years of experience in print, radio and digital media. As a reporter, she specialized in environmental issues, business, technology and healthcare features. She was the founding associate editor of NEXTpittsburgh, a popular city-based publication, and a frequent contributor to Pittsburgh Magazine and Crain’s Pittsburgh. Her work has appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Fast Company, OZY, The Washington Post and Time-Life Books. Deb grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and has lived with her family in Mt. Lebanon for the past 20 years.
Michele FettingProgram Director
Michele is the Program Director at the Breathe Project where she supports strategic campaigns to improve air and water quality and protect communities from gas and petrochemical development. She has more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, including work on campaigns and policies to protect U.S. farmland, the Florida Everglades, and the Appalachian region. Michele has a deep commitment to environmental justice and transitioning to a clean energy economy. Her work has been published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Naples Daily News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, GoWorldTravel, American Birding and NEXTpittsburgh. Michele has a degree in Journalism from Ohio State University and a Master’s in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Climate Institute, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Pittsburgh Marathon, Friends of the Riverfront and Fractracker Alliance. She can often be found running the trails or paddling the rivers around Pittsburgh.
Liz is an intern at the Breathe Project where she is working with Carnegie Mellon University’s Create Lab to collect and analyze data from air quality monitoring sources to develop communication materials for community campaigns. She is interested in the effects of pollution on health and plans to pursue a Master of Public Health. As a senior studying biology at Penn State University, she conducts research on ecological succession and land management strategies to optimize healthy forest regrowth. Liz is the Career Development Director of Schreyer for Women, a Penn State organization that works to empower women in the Schreyer Honors College through career development and community engagement. She has also worked on primate conservation management in Kenya’s greater Amboseli ecosystem. Liz is from Beaver County and is excited to be working on environmental issues in the Western Pennsylvania community.